Those are the best reasons Mina’s owner, Jen Fisher, can give to explain why the 5-year-old German shepherd fled her downtown home not once, but twice in recent weeks.
Blame it on the rain. The morning of Aug. 20, Fisher left for the Desert Research Institute, where she’s a microbial ecologist. That day brought dramatic thunder and lightning, and when Fisher arrived home from work, Mina was nowhere to be found. Most likely, spooked by the weather, the dog had burst out her doggie door and scrambled over the 5-foot-high cinderblock fence.
The first place Fisher looked was her friend Jim Bruckner’s old place about a mile from her house, where Mina’s favorite canine playmates once lived. On days when Fisher worked late and Mina was lonely, the dog used to find her way out of the yard and go in search of company, usually turning up at Bruckner’s. He moved two years ago, but Fisher thought the thunder might have driven Mina to familiar ground.
The place was empty, though; no Mina, no friends of Mina. Fisher drove around the neighborhood, knocked on doors. She visited the Lied Animal Shelter, posted fliers, checked Craigslist and broadcast the message to veterinarians and animal groups.
Fisher spent a sleepless night, then another. When she answered her phone at 5:40 a.m. Aug. 22, a man’s voice was on the line. He was calling from the loading dock of the Cosmopolitan. He had Mina.
Workers had found her running around the parking structure. Neither the man nor Fisher has any idea how she got there. What happened there, stays with Mina.
The nightmare was over. For a while.
• • •
Las Vegas has its share of late-summer downpours, but nobody expected the ferocity of the one that came on Sept. 11. That morning, confident that Mina had learned her lesson, Fisher left the doggie door open and went to work. As the afternoon storm began, and the wash behind DRI filled, she got a sick feeling in her stomach. Detained by a team of German scientists, she couldn’t get home until 6:20. Mina was gone.
This time, instead of upsetting friends and neighbors with fliers, Fisher focused her efforts on those who might spot Mina on the run: the vast social-media community of “pet people” who gather at sites such as VegasDogMag.com. She shared the word, and soon the city was blanketed with Mina’s “Missing” poster.
Calls poured in. Mina was seen running through a strip mall on West Sahara, wandering a neighborhood near Washington Avenue and Decatur Boulevard, resting at Lorenzi Park. Fisher and her boyfriend drove to every sighting, showing Mina’s photo around, trolling the area.
“Yep, that’s her,” people would say. “I just saw her this morning.”
On Sept. 18, a woman Tweeted about a dog running by the Meadows Mall with a broken leg. Someone who had seen Mina’s “Missing” poster replied, “Was it a German shepherd?” Yes, it was.
A few clicks and keystrokes later, Fisher had the message. Her boyfriend sped to the mall and found Mina sitting, tired and lost, at the entrance to the Springs Preserve.
Her leg wasn’t broken; she just had a road-worn paw. She was skinny, exhausted and extremely thirsty, but otherwise all right.
Fisher is now shopping for a GPS tracking collar.